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Reader Comments (21)

Posted: May 4th 2010 11:04AM (Unverified) said

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Great idea for a column. I look forward to more blasts from the past =)

Posted: May 4th 2010 11:14AM Strigoi said

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I have many fond memories of UO right when it started, despite suffering from bone-crushing lag and tons of glitches. Being a long-time Ultima fan, it delivered that community feeling that we all craved for.

I moved on, eventually, but I still have the eventual UO flashback, now and then.

Posted: May 4th 2010 11:19AM (Unverified) said

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UO is best mmorpg for me.. i play WoW now. but UO is still best

Posted: May 4th 2010 11:54AM (Unverified) said

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GameStooge also wrote a big article on Ultima X: Odyssey as well:

http://www.gamestooge.com/2009/01/19/the-mmo-that-never-was-ultima-x-odyssey/

Posted: May 4th 2010 12:03PM Seffrid said

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I enjoyed all the single player Ultima games, but as a UK player I found the lag in UO was terrible and I also disliked the isometric view and very limited display (by which I mean a couple of trees or part of a building filling the screen as against a more substantial landscape, especially when compared to the much more expansive first person view in EQ which became my home for a number of years (with the off foray into AC). I did try UO again once or twice but couldn't get the feel of the graphics by then. It's a shame they never managed to press on with the sequel.

Posted: May 4th 2010 12:04PM Seffrid said

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EDIT: "odd" foray into AC is what I meant!

Posted: May 4th 2010 12:18PM Ocho said

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It really is too bad that Ultima X never got off the ground. The Ultima series, to this day, is still one of my all-time favorites. Ultima 7: The Black Gate stands as my favorite game of all time. It was the first time I remember seeing a non-combat economy in game, and a living world with npc's that had real schedules. They woke up, had breakfast around the house, went to work, went on a lunch break, came back to work, then went to the pub after work (or to the Fellowship meeting) and met with whatever lovers or hobbies they had. This blew my mind that a game went into such detail. Want to bake bread? Take flour, add water from a well, and stick it in an oven... in a few seconds you had bread which you could sell back to the baker! No need to kill monsters to make money.

When UO came out, I really wanted to get into it, but I was young and still a fledgling gamer and couldn't get past the hardcore style. Plus it wasn't an extension of the storyline, so it didn't completely interest me (although, lets face it... Ultima IX's story was pretty lame and contrived for being the final game in the huge series). If they had made Ultima X, I would subscribe in a heartbeat.

Awesome idea for a column and I can't wait to see more from this game.

Posted: May 4th 2010 1:15PM (Unverified) said

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EA was scared of pulling subscribers from UO. (rolling eyes)
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Posted: May 4th 2010 1:25PM bartillo said

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UO was the best game ever, was there right at release.... Until trammel came out and ruined the game.

Next was SWG and again.. the NGE.

Carebears ruin everything.

Posted: May 4th 2010 1:29PM (Unverified) said

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So do griefers, which UO was plagued by.
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Posted: May 4th 2010 3:21PM (Unverified) said

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Goddamn those carebears for not wanting to play the role of sheep for the packs of griefing, ganking wolves! Who do they think they are?

Less sarcastically, this is why I don't think the 'good old days' of UO are ever coming back. It wasn't about the game design or full loot or whatever. It was about the captive audience of PvE players providing targets for the PvP players, because there was no other MMOG to go play.
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Posted: May 4th 2010 6:43PM (Unverified) said

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@Nbarnes

I think that peoples memories of gankfests are really overblown. Yes there were certainly PKers but just acting with a tad of responsability/intelligence made them no big deal. Dont carry valuable things for no reason, recall back to town regularly when grinding so your not carrying 4 hours worth of loot, be prepared to recall out at the first sign of danger (its not like they could really sneak up on you, especially if you used some of the legal 3rd party programs) or better yet learn PvP..I cant tell you how many times me and a buddy or me alone would get ambushed and by showing just a little bit of competence were able to kill or scare the PKers away (death penalty for them was much more severe so they really hated dying). Not saying I was a great Pvper, I wasnt, but neither were most PKers just fighting back semi competently was usually enough to drive off the majority since they feared dying so much.

Really though I think your right about the captive audience thing, most people dont want to have any sort of responsability for their own game play and prefer the game designers to just make a nerf world where their own and other player's actions dont really matter. Its sad really.
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Posted: May 4th 2010 7:02PM (Unverified) said

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I have to agree with Schmid. I played UO pre-trammel as well and I never had a real problem with PK'ers. They were a fact of life and it added some danger and excitement to the world, more so than being frustrating. This isn't true for every game. AoC comes to mind, that game was ripe with griefers like Nbarnes is describing and it was disgusting. Not to say UO didn't have griefers, but it was not a game ruining experience compared to some of the griefing that happens in more recent games.

The biggest problem I see is that games have went extremely lax on punishment for living the life of a PKer. There are no consequences for your actions for the most part, or the security measures are easily subverted. WoW comes to mind where you can either cheese someone into being killed by the town guards, kill the person and just run/disappear away or hell in the world of level 80's the guards barely phase your mighty power. Bring back some punishment to living the life of a thief/vagabond.
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Posted: May 4th 2010 9:27PM (Unverified) said

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@schmid

I totally agree. I played from '98 to - '03 and I can count on my 10 fingers how often I got PKed. Overall UO, even pre trammel, was very safe for venturing out into the wilderness and the chance to get PKed was rather slim. Still it added a nice element of danger that kept you from just going AFK anywhere.
Sure every shard had some hot spots for gankage, which were usually well known (I remember ice island was popular on cats, so were some of the peninsulas in the north). So if you were looking for it, you could find PvP fests. But it was easy enough to avoid this and play pretty hassle free.

What was WAY more annoying than PKs were Trammel griefers which you could not hurt because of the carebear rules.
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Posted: May 4th 2010 1:53PM (Unverified) said

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They sure don't make them like this anymore. Whether you think that's good or not is to be debated I guess. I'd like to see more community over mindless slaughter in current MMO's but I guess that doesn't appeal to a wider audience (Ex: D&D 4th edition).

Games like UO, EQ, AC, etc. had a particular flair for being virtual worlds whereas most of the current games (ALOT since WoW) are more like theme parks. People hung out and relaxed in those older ones, not just roleplaying but they spent time enjoying the sights and friends. The combat driven MMO's of today seem to just act like a distraction. You log on, ride the rides for a couple hours, then log off.

Posted: May 4th 2010 2:23PM Birk said

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I confess, I purchased Blackthorns Revenge back in 2002 as my first UO experience, played for all of 20 minutes, and then never logged back on.

I constantly regret that decision, especially considering my next MMO was Ashen Empires (Back then, called Dransik), which I played for some time indeed. Nevermind that it was something of a UO clone.

Great idea for a column. I was recently considering checking out UO for nostalgia sake, but the pricetag of the game and all the expansions seemed steep for a game that is crawling up on 13 years old. Maybe I will end up going back, if only for awhile!

Posted: May 4th 2010 3:33PM (Unverified) said

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I loved UO, played from shortly after launch until shortly after trammel came out. Ive never found another MMO that even comes close to what UO used to be. It truly was a virtual world not a virtual "theme park" as someone up thread called modern MMOs. Sigh makes me nostalgic reading about it.

Posted: May 5th 2010 12:57AM (Unverified) said

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I remember hearing about people playing a online game and thought that since I was in between jobs that I might give it a go. Off to the nearest game store I went and brought a copy. Once I loaded it and started to play that was it for me, I was hooked.

For hours I would work mining the caves and mountains for ore to sell to others or wandering the forests chopping wood to make furniture. The times when I wanted a bit of adventure off I went to a dungeon to fight the monsters within.

This I think was the greatest thing about UO, it allowed you to be a part of a world where you did NOT have to be the hero and were welcomed when you wanted to make things, gather resources and/or be a merchant as it allowed for those who wanted to fight to have something to spend their money on something they needed.

I stopped playing when I moved to the other side of the country and started working full time. If only EA allowed for the game to evolve into a true 3D game (yes I do like fancy graphics) like the MMO's of today or even allowed for a sequel then I would be back paying money to once again mine and gather resources.

Posted: May 4th 2010 9:14PM (Unverified) said

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what made it so special? It was actually a hard core game where hard core didn't translate into "endless grind and harsh penalities". Sure it was hard to master, but what made it really hard core was just the endless possibilities UO gave you to succeed. While in most current MMOs your career is limited to monster hunter, UO let people succeed by just being crafters, letting you run a virtual tavern, managing an empire of shops and vendors, letting you play the real estate market by placing and selling houses, letting you become a treasure hunter and rares collector, or just being a thief and scavenger.
There was no chat system, you actually had to go out and meet people! Quests weren't shoved in your face, because there were none. Instead you grabbed your friends and decided what you'd like to do. Which brought some of the best RP that ever was in an MMO (Shadowclan anyone?)

There was so much freedom, which was all taken away from us in the current gen MMOs, where you cannot even drop stuff to the floor....ah UO...good times...

Posted: May 5th 2010 5:27PM Sethisto said

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I miss this game. Every time I pick up a new mmo I always get that "Uo did this so much better" feeling about so many things.

Just the general community in ultima was awesome. This was surprising considering you had to use outside chat clients to communicate. You could run through Brit and trade/talk to people in an open environment that felt much more realistic than the chat windows we have these days.

You were also a lot more free in Ultima. I used to tame an army of winter wolves/Ice bears and bring them all to a dungeon called destard(where people hunted dragons) for some good old fashioned player killing. Paralyze+Energy field X+ALL ATTACK=game over.

The housing was much more fun than current gen mmo's. Your house actually had a location in the world. It wasn't some instance that you click a door in the city to access. I was huge on real estate for a while. I'd buy houses next to high dollar ore spawns and sell them off for profit. There was an area outside of another dungeon, despise on pacific. Me and a few of my online friends(which was a totally new concept back then even though now days the majority of my friends are "online friends") actually bought 4 of the houses right outside, so we effectively owned the dungeon for a month. Eventually I was offered 6 million for one of them, so we split the cash and ended up selling the rest off for around the same price.

When trammel came out, I was dissapointed for the most part. It allowed my crafting/PvE/Housing side to explore more, but I really missed the PvP. Ultima was never the same without that danger of running into a group of people in the middle of a dungeon then bolting in the opposite direction and desperately trying to cast invisibility an a corner. The danger was for the most part, gone. You still had that fear of losing your vanquishing katana of demon slaying at the bottom of hithloth, because people could still loot your stuff if you didnt get to it quick enough, but the game was much less competative.

One awesome thing that did come with trammel was factions. Shadowlords, True brittanians, Minax, and Council of Mages. These actually took place in felucca, in an attempt to revive the very much dead pvp, and it was, in my opinion, a huge success. these 4 groups litterally vied for control over the world. Taking over cities and setting up guard stations within. At their actual strongholds were the sigil stones that Grandmaster level thieves had to steal and return to their keep, then defend for a day (i probably have the times wrong) in order to take the city. The faction strongholds had player crafted traps, and boxes in the way as temporary barricades, and all sorts of other fun stuff. This was the sort of freedom people had.

I'd love to do the interview. I could talk all day about ultima online. I won't know my work schedule until next week though sadly!

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